The Dodgers lost in disappointing fashion on Friday night in St. Louis after Dan Haren‘s flat fastball to Matt Holliday gave the Red Birds the 3-2 victory. Haren could not get through five innings, and he picked up his third loss in a row. While three runs allowed by Haren wasn’t exactly terrible, the inability of Haren to go deep into games is more problematic and puts a larger workload on the Dodger bullpen. The Dodger bullpen actually had a good night despite the loss. Chris Perez, Paco Rodriguez, and Brandon League all pitched scoreless outings after Haren was pulled in the fifth. The real culprit in the loss was the Dodger offense and their inability to come through with runners in scoring position. The Dodgers continue to struggle with the bases loaded, and squandered opportunities which ultimately cost them the game and put them in a first-place tie with San Francisco.
Van Slyke CF
The Dodger loss on Friday was not a great way to start off the second half and a nine-game road trip. While Dan Haren has struggled mightily in recent weeks, the Dodger offense has completely stalled out as well. The Boys in Blue have only scored 4 runs over their last 3 games, and they have not been able to come up clutch when it counts. Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis and even Yasiel Puig have all been unable to be consistent at the plate. Yasiel Puig has hit one homerun (July 4th) since May 28th, and Adrian Gonzalez has hit only two homeruns since May 21st (June 23rd and July 1st). Andre Ethier’s last homerun was back on June 29th against St. Louis pitcher Shelby Miller.
While the Dodgers began the second half 10 games above .500, it still feels as though this $250 million club isn’t playing to
potential. With all that talent on the roster, there should be more fireworks and less bases loaded failures. They still have yet to win four games in a row, and they are almost back to full health with Justin Turner returning from the disabled list on Friday. The Cardinals have had their own set of problems this season, and they find themselves in second place and one game behind the red hot Milwaukee Brewers.
Losing Joe Kelly for most of the first half with a strained left hamstring has contributed to the Red Birds’ woes. The 26-year old right-hander returned from the disabled list just a little more than a week ago, and he will be making just his fifth start of the season for St. Louis on Saturday afternoon. In his first start since April, Kelly only made it through 3 innings versus Milwaukee and allowed 6 runs on 7 hits. He will be looking to get back on track against the Dodgers. Overall, the spectacled Kelly is 1-1 against the Dodgers with a 3.72 ERA in 4 career games (3 starts). Adrian Gonzalez is hitting .636 against Kelly with 2 homeruns and 4 RBIs in 12 plate appearances. The Dodgers will hope to avoid any broken ribs this time around, but I think we will never forget Kelly’s fastball which knocked Hanley Ramirez and essentially the Dodgers to an extent out of the NLCS last year.
All-Star Zack Greinke also knows a thing or two about broken bones, but his focus will be instead on breaking the hearts of the Cardinals fans on Saturday. Greinke will be making his 20th start of the season for the Dodgers after impressing with a perfect inning pitched in the All-Star Game during the break. Greinke lost last time out to Detroit after allowing 3 runs on 7 hits through 7 innings while striking out 8 and walking none. Greinke faced the Cardinals back on June 28th at Dodger Stadium when he won after allowing 1 run on 4 hits through 7 frames. Overall the right-hander is 9-3 with a 2.93 ERA against the Cards in 13 career games (11 starts). At Busch Stadium, he is 3-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 5 games. Greinke will of course have to be wary of Matt Holliday who is hitting .314 against him with 11 hits including 2 homeruns and 5 RBIs in 37 plate appearances.
Prediction: Adrian Gonzalez breaks out of his slump with a multi-hit game.
Even though they are down by a game in the series, the Dodgers won three of four games against St. Louis back in June at Dodger Stadium. The National League Champions have had their own health issues like the Dodgers this season, and they recently lost their extremely valuable catcher Yadier Molina to thumb surgery, and he is not expected to return until mid-September. For the Dodgers that means Dee Gordon should be green lighted on the base path with Molina’s absence.
Former Dodger Mark Ellis did not start in Game 1, and it looks as though the veteran has been struggling at the plate with a .188 batting average over 55 games.
With the Giants surely set to rebound at some point, the Dodgers will need to string some wins together in the second half. St. Louis will most likely factor into the postseason as well, so the Dodgers better figure out how to tame Holliday’s bat and collect some hits against their tough late inning relief corps.